After a thus-far successful spring, the Longhorns know a final push could get them to the promise land: the NCAA Championships in May. With only two regattas left, they will try to impress in order to receive one of the 16 bids for the championship meet; an event the Longhorns haven’t attended since most of the current roster was in middle school.
The Longhorns will try to win their third-straight Big 12 Championship this weekend when they take on Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma in the waters of Kansas City, Kan.
Last year’s event saw Texas dominate the competition, winning all five events and edging out Oklahoma in total points, 108-97.
“The varsity did a nice job of toughing it out in a tight race with OU,” said head coach Carie Graves after last year’s big win. “There were several intense, well-fought races, and overall it was a great day to be a Longhorn.”
In the Longhorns’ last outing this season at the Virginia Invitational, Texas took home seven victories against Clemson, UCLA and Michigan State, all of whom were ranked above the Longhorns heading into the regatta. The strong showing moved Texas up three spots in the USRowing Coaches Poll to its highest ranking of the season, at No. 15 in the nation.
“The teams racing this weekend were racing some tough races in tough water,” Graves said. “We were able to show some speed throughout, and I am proud of how the team handled itself.”
After not being ranked in either of the previous two seasons, the Longhorns have found their name in the top 20 in all six polls this spring and are headed in the right direction. The coaches knew coming into the spring there was a lot of potential, but they wouldn’t know for sure until the boats hit the water.
“You never know. You have hopes,” Graves said. “I could tell from the fall at our last race at the Head of the Hooch that we had a lot of depth on our team.”
The competition will follow a specific point system, rewarding points from first to last, with the first varsity eight event receiving the most weight in the total scores.
This is good news for the Longhorns, whose first varsity eight boat has only one loss the entire spring, which came against seventh-ranked Michigan State by a mere four seconds. After knocking off No. 13 Clemson and No. 17 UCLA at the Virginia Invitational, the first varsity eight boat was named Conference USA’s boat of the week.
Senior captain Jennifer VanderMaarel rows stroke seat for the boat and knows how much the team has improved since her freshman season.
“The team this year is the best out of my four years that I’ve been here,” she said. “The team dynamic is awesome, and everyone works hard.”